On Thursday, Keely Miranda Sharp, a writer and editor for the conservative site Eagle Rising, said in an email that she was handed a seven-day ban for posting three laughing emojis in a Facebook comment.
To make matters worse, Sharp said she has no idea what post the comment was on because Facebook failed to provide that information.
“All I know is that I have been banned for posting the laughing faces,” she said.
Ordinarily, such a ban would severely impact her work at Eagle Rising, but we’ve been informed that a colleague has stepped up to keep things going.
So there, Facebook… Nyah, nyah, nyah.
Sharp’s ban isn’t the only questionable move moderators at the social media giant have made as we’ve reported here many times.
One conservative female, for example, was told her profile picture of a lilac tree was considered “pornographic.” Another user was told a picture of a 2012 Donald Trump campaign button violated the site’s rules on nudity. The picture only showed Trump’s face.
Last year, yours truly was handed a 30-day ban for a picture of an eagle superimposed on a U.S. flag. Facebook eventually lifted the ban, but the effort took some 20 days and multiple appeals.
Back in 2015, moderators repeatedly issued bans based on posts that were formatted to appear as though I made them — even though I didn’t. That seven-month excursion into social media hell was part of what inspired “Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad” (World Ahead Press, 2016).
In one particularly strange incident we documented here, one user was literally slapped for posting laughter.
Breitbart London Editor-in-chief Raheem Kassam tweeted the highly offensive message that got him in hot water:
In another case, moderators actually slapped a user for posting… nothing. Literally. The same user was slapped for a graphic promoting traditional marriage in August 2015, as I documented at the now-defunct Examiner.com.
And those are just a tiny sampling of the literally hundreds of cases I’ve fielded since 2011. As a result of their punitive and questionable actions, Facebook was dubbed the world’s most dangerous censor by Breitbart.
What makes Sharp’s ban so infuriating is that emojis are provided by Facebook to help users express themselves. Meanwhile the site says that a black nationalist post advocating mass murder of Trump supporters doesn’t violate their standards.
Let that sink in for just a minute.
It’s not clear why she would have been punished as Facebook offered no context. Sharp believes it’s part of the overall effort to censor conservatives on the platform.
“This is absolutely ridiculous,” she said. “They’re censoring conservatives on Facebook in any way they can.”
As Adina Kutnicki, an investigative journalist based in Israel, and I wrote in Banned, the reason this happens is because federal law — specifically Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 — allows it, with zero legal consequences. Which, of course, means that Congress needs to address the issue. But they won’t. In fact, lawmakers have refused to even answer any inquiries we’ve made on issues involving social media.
Again, Adina and I address the reasons for that in the book as well.
So for now, it seems Sharp will join the many millions of social media users who have been unfairly placed in “Facebook jail.”
Welcome to the club.
You can catch up on our coverage of Facebook here.
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